The guilty displeasures of parenthood

Among the many things I’ve learned about myself since having children, one of them is this: I do not like playing Paw Patrol. There. I said it. I will build train tracks, use my sock as a puppet, even turn our living room into a fort, but for some reason playing Paw Patrol makes me want to dive into the netherworld of mysterious grossness that exists under our couch.

Of course, I instantly feel like an asshole for saying that. I’m thinking someday my son is going to read this and think, “WHAT? My own mother didn’t like to play my favourite game?! Call my therapist!” Judah, if you are reading this, I love playing with you, dude, I’m just too old for these bootcamp-like military races around the first floor. You will cry at the sight of a scratch you got five days ago yet somehow you can slam your knees into hardwood a million times without flinching once.

I feel this is a giant red X in the cons column of my current parenting style. Were I to get a report card from the boy, Paw Patrol play would likely be my weakest subject, possibly even lower than meal preparation:

Alison actively skirts my direction around Adventure Bay and consistently offers me plates of unwanted vegetables instead of the macaroni cheese or rabaloli I so politely request.

I know I’m not alone. I was talking to a friend this morning as we dropped our kids off for their weekly meeting at the day home, also known as the time I try to get a week’s worth of shit done in less than three hours. We were talking about how wonderful the day home lady is with the kids. She does crafts, takes them outside on adventures or picnics, lets them leave their toys all over the place. This week, for some reason, she has an Ikea mattress out in the middle of the living room floor. The kids have been using it to jump or roll or do whatever little kids will do with such things.

She just has fun with them, seemingly without another care in the world, even though she has a lot on her plate. And we aren’t sure how she does it.

“I hate playing Lego,” my friend said with a sigh. “Sean’s way better at it than I am. He’s the fun one.”

I feel you, sister. I think we all do. Luke is somehow always able to find a way to make daily challenges with kids into something fun. Judah doesn’t want to get dressed so Luke turns it into a contest to see who can get dressed first, making sure to accidentally put his sock on his ear, or something equally silly. Ellie is being grumpy so he does an exaggerated grumpy face back and tells her not to laugh. Me, I just get exasperated.

Maybe it’s because he spends most of his time working in an office with adults who see the value of wearing shoes outside and can readily admit when they need to pee. He still has to deal with high-level bullshit, but perhaps that makes the frustrations of raising strong-willed micro-humans feel like, well, child’s play by comparison.

For me, it is a daily, sometimes hourly, or even minute-by-minute challenge. Some days I’m good at it, like the other day when Judah and I had to wait for Ellie’s class to finish and I started talking to him on my banana phone. He thought that was hilarious, especially after he took a bite and garbled (gobbled) the connection. Other days I just want to put in my earbuds, turn on a podcast and pretend like I’m taking part in an uninterrupted, intellectual conversation with a couple of like-minded adults.

I realize how fortunate I am to spend this time with my littles and, of course, I wouldn't change it for the world. I find myself simultaneously counting the days until they are both in the same school for the same amount of time—glory, hallelujah—while watching videos of when they were little and wondering when they got so big. I am in a boat on an ocean, never sure which way to paddle. But time has its own agenda and, sooner or later, I will reach a shore.

In the meantime, there are decorations to hang, advent calendars to create, meals to cook and appointment to make. This week's worth of shit isn't going to do itself. Luckily, there’s a new episode of Edit Your Life available to keep me company along the way. Paw Patrol is on a roll!